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2009-10 Canes Country Exit Analysis: Ray Whitney

We've started to look back at the individual performances of the Hurricanes players over the 2009-10 season, asking our readers evaluate and grade each player. We started with Erik Cole on Friday here, and today we're looking at one of Cole's fellow veterans of the 2005-06 Stanley Cup winning team, the Hurricanes Alternate Captain, Ray Whitney.

Ray Whitney

#13 / Left Wing / Carolina Hurricanes



May 08, 1972

2009 - 10 Ray Whitney 80 21 37 58 -6 26 7 0 5 171 12.3 1531:51 19:08
2008 - 09 Ray Whitney 82 24 53 77 +2 32 7 0 2 219 11.0 1509:39 18:24
2007 - 08 Ray Whitney 66 25 36 61 -6 30 6 0 4 204 12.3 1249:44 18:56
2006 - 07 Ray Whitney 81 32 51 83 -5 46 6 0 2 215 14.9 1515:13 18:42

Ray Whitney seems to prove the exception to the rule that, at the ripe age of 37, he was too old to be a scoring leader in the NHL, too slow or too tired to play top line minutes. Remarkably, the winger was first among forwards in TOI this season, second only to ironman Joni Pitkanen on the team. And, looking at the chart above, this year's minutes are in fact his best of the last four years. Age doesn't seem to have caught up with the Wizard yet.

The Good: When Whitney shines the whole world stops to watch his magic moves, his daring tape-to-tape passes, and his remarkable vision and hockey sense, while his young teammates can only say "Wow". And for the 2 months leading up to the trade deadline, Whitney's star shown brightly. During that twenty-two game stretch, beginning the first of January, his stat line was 9G and 14A for 23 points, better than a point/game. He finished the season in the top sixty in the League for scoring points (ahead of the likes of Phil Kessel, Dustin Brown, Jason Spezza, Mike Knuble) and 24th for game-winning goals with five.

The Bad: Whitney, a right-shooting left winger, is hardly a titan on the ice when playing in his own end, and his "+/-" reflects that. In his five years in Carolina, including the Stanley Cup year, his cumulative +/- comes to -15 (The Canes were +15 over the same span). Also, perhaps for some fans, the uncertainty surrounding the "seemed-certain-then-somehow-never-happened" trade and the rumors about exactly what transpired between Whitney, Jim Rutherford, and the LA Kings will also leave a blemish on his record for the year.

The Money: We all know that Ray Whitney's contract with the Hurricanes concludes this summer, and he will become a free agent. This past season he earned $3.55 million which matched the cap hit as well.

Looking forward (which is not really what we're supposed to be doing here), Whitney isn't getting any younger. But let me toss out that the recent play of former teammate Mark Recchi, at age 42, is as apt a comparison as that heard often here to Rod Brind`Amour (age 39) whose production and minutes have fallen off dramatically the last two years. Where's that crystal ball when you need one?

Recchi, a left-shooting right winger, earned $1.7million with the Bruins this year, averaging about 17 minutes/game. He has also added 6 G + 3 A in 10 playoff games so far.

2009 - 10 Mark Recchi 81 18 25 43 4 34 8 0 2 152 11.8

Update on Ray Whitney at Worlds:

Finally a brief update on Whitney's play in Germany for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships earlier today. For starters, Whitney played on the second line with a couple teenagers named John Tavares and Matt Duchene. It gets better. From the National Post, Canada downs Italy in opening game of World Hockey Championship Carolina Hurricanes veteran Ray Whitney, who celebrated his 38th birthday Saturday, set up two key goals as Canada outmatched an often feisty Italian team...Whitney was named player of the game. Happy Birthday, Ray.

You might also get a kick out of the comments in the gamethread from those watching the game posted over at SBN's new International Hockey blog, Puckworlds.

Playing with a pair of 19-year-olds, Ray looked like a young colt himself out there today. Easily could have had 4 or 5 points instead of just the 2 beauty assists.

Last season, the vast majority (80%!) of fans voting on our poll gave Ray Whitney an A for the 2008-09 season that included 18 post season games to feel good about. How does this year's performance look to you?